Mentor Development Program

Mentoring is a critical component of career development and success for clinical translational science research faculty. CTSI started a comprehensive mentoring program at UCSF that began in 2007 with the Mentor Development Program (MDP) in conjunction with the launching of a campuswide faculty mentoring program. The goal of the UCSF Faculty Mentoring Program is aimed at all junior faculty members in all four professional schools with the goal to pair each with a career mentor to oversee and support their professional development. The Career Mentor is usually in the mentee’s department, should not be their direct supervisor, and is assigned (or approved) by the departmental mentoring facilitator affiliated with the Faculty Mentoring Program. Scheduled meetings take place at least 2-3 times per year.

While mentoring is a critical component of career development in the academic health sciences, particularly for individuals engaged in translational research, mentoring skills rarely are taught explicitly.
Jeanette S. Brown, MD

The MDP spans the four schools of the University, pooling expertise and resources from the Schools of Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry. It includes a combination of skills-based exercises, case discussions, and key information relevant for all clinical and translational mentors such as fiscal and personnel management, IRB procedures, and grant resources. Specifically, the MDP program consists of ten case-based seminars held during monthly half-day meetings over five-months. The case-based approach is designed to stimulate discussion about mentoring best practices, such as mentor relationships, fostering independence, challenges to communication, role of the mentor in promoting work-life balance, and mentoring women and members of under-represented groups. Course faculty include panelists with extensive mentoring experience from within and outside UCSF.

The monthly schedule includes two seminars each morning and time for Mentors-In-Training to network with each other and with senior mentors. While the ultimate goal of the sessions is to provide knowledge and skills for mentoring, the content has the added benefit of directly enhancing the mentors’ research programs through improved understanding of institutional policies and access to resources that strengthen the mentors’ programs as well as the careers of the early career investigators whom they mentor. MDP materials include mentoring resources, seminar outlines, illustrative mentoring cases, and the opportunity to add observations and comments to the mentoring cases.

Excerpted from "The Importance of Mentorship", by Jeanette S. Brown, MD, published in the December 2011 issue of San Francisco Medicine, the journal ofthe San Francisco Medical Association.

Lessons Learned

From 2007 to 2010, nearly 60 Mentors-In-Training (MITs) completed the MDP. Only 15% of the MITs reported any previous mentor training, and overall, it was found that the MDP had a significant impact on the participants’ assessment of their mentoring skills after completion of the program. Notably, the MITs reported a significantly increased level of confidence in their overall and specific mentoring skills, and most reported that they are likely to alter their approach to mentoring as a result of the MDP training.

In general, the MDP promotes a Mentoring Team approach. A team approach to mentoring may be more appropriate for many junior faculty members to fulfill their mentoring/career goals, particularly those in careers that require significant research/scholarship for advancement. The mentoring team helps to ensure that the mentee is progressing in a timely fashion to fulfill their mentoring/career goals. If a mentoring team is assembled, it is important for the junior faculty member to identify a “Lead Mentor”. The team should include (in addition to their Lead Mentor) a Career Mentor(s), and may include Co-Mentor(s), Project Mentor(s), and additional Research/Scholarly mentor(s).  Scheduled Mentoring Team meetings take place at least 2 times per year.

What They're Saying

“I have more knowledge about UCSF policies and procedures so I can better help my mentees.”

“The MDP answered not only the questions I knew to ask, but also the questions I didn't know to ask. This is an essential [program] that every mentor needs to complete.”

“The MDP seminars helped me understand the issues among junior faculty and provided more systematic ways to deal with them. These are valuable experiences that I will most definitively incorporate into my own skills.”